Monday, April 2, 2018

Before you Order from Venezuala Read This

I recently was glad to find a fairly minty Famosa Dragun for sale on eBay. It included the Famosa version of the Star Shooter along with a few stars and a decent looking box. This is/was probably the best condition example of this international Shogun Warriors variation I've seen so I bit.





I eagerly awaited arrival of the Dragun, knowing from past experience that it sometimes takes a bit of time to reach the US (it's taken in excess of 60 days for me to receive items from Mexico and a bit less from Brazil). Note the auction ended on January 22, 2017.

What I ordered

Here are the rest of the auction photos:












What I received

The package arrived on Feb 1 2018, so about 40 days which I didn't think was bad. The problem was with what I actually received:










Notice I only receive about half of the box bottom, the figure (with shooter) and a note indicating that the original package may have been damaged (English on one side and Spanish on the other). I reached out to the seller and filed a PayPal claim (note, if you can use PayPal and pay using an American Express card in case there are any issues - PayPal is usually pretty good to the buyer but when they aren't AmEx will always side with you as a card holder - so you won't be out the amount of purchase). The seller was apologetic and explained that DHL must have forced an inspection and that he would make it up to me. Lucky for me he had the box for a Famosa Gaiking - he sent me the box along with a handful of Famosa missiles so he made good on the sale.

I've since learned that it's fairly common for packages coming from Venezuala to be searched and if the packaging gets messed up, well tough. I think part of the problem are the weights in the legs (plastic sand-filled bottles) of these jumbo machinders - they look like drug packages and will cause these boxes to be opened and searched. In any case, this is my story so please use care when ordering from there. If you know someone in another country (like Uruguay or Peru) have the package sent there first then forwarded to yourself in the US - that's something that was recently recommended to me.

-- John

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Some Notes on Fists


From Left-to-Right: Popy Great Mazinger; US Mattel Mazinga 2nd version; Popy Daimos; US Mattel Daimos Comparison 1


Some Notes on Color and Sculpts


Troy Varker asked me to help him do some color matching - he had custom created a Daimos right "Open Hand" and wanted to get the color right. I lined up a few of fists from the collection and chose the best color match. From Left-to-Right: Popy Great Mazinger; US Mattel Mazinga 2nd version; Popy Daimos; US Mattel Daimos.

From Left-to-Right: Popy Great Mazinger; US Mattel Mazinga 2nd version; Popy Daimos; US Mattel Daimos Comparison 2

From Left-to-Right: Popy Great Mazinger; US Mattel Mazinga 2nd version; Popy Daimos; US Mattel Daimos Comparison 3

Notes in no particular order

I've known for some time that the difference between the Popy right Great Mazinger fist and the US Mattel Mazinga 2nd version  fists use different sculpts and have differing color - the US fist is has a larger enclosed hand and is a lighter navy blue (the Popy fist is very dark blue, almost black). What I noticed today is that the wing is also different - the Popy version is has a longer point, extending out further than the Mattel.

Upon closer examination of the Mattel Daimos fists, it's fairly obvious that it was cast from the Mazinga fist - the mold marks and sculpt are exactly the same (same fist) however the Daimos fist loses a little detail where the pinky finger curls under so I don't believe they are based on the same master. More likely the Mazinga fist was used for the initial casting then modified with the plunger (so the fist could be fired) along with the ring for the Daimos cubic cuff.

US Mattel Mazinga Right Fists: Left 1st Version, Right 2nd Version Color Comparison




To really get a good luck at the color differences, the fist on the left above is from a Mattel Mazinga 1st Issue (same as Popy Great Mazinger) and the right is from a Mattel Mazinga 2nd Issue. Notice the left is much darker - it almost looks black.

US Mazinga Left Compared to pair of Popy Great Mazinger Fists


For some further analysis, is you compare the fists to those that come with the ZZ-1 Accessory (yes both fists exist - you only get one per set but if you buy enough you'll find the matching pair to each fist), you'll see that the sculpt is completely different. The fist part matches the Popy GM fists but the find is longer and a bit thicker.

Dragun Variations

John Olson asked me about one of the fists on a Mattel Dragun he owns - it's sculpted completely different from those I've pictured in various posts. Note that it's the US Mattel 2nd Version (larger firing mechanism with saw-blades):

John Olson's Dragun


Notice the short base for the firing part - it's cut even and squared with the wrist which is quite different from the earlier Popy version and later Mattel versions.


These are the three variants that I have:

Popy Dragun and US Mattel 1st Version

US Mattel 2nd Version

US Mattel 3rd Version (no saw blades)
 The main differences that I've observed have more to do with the axe firing mechanism - the earlier version has an attachment plate one one side (the outside of the hand) while the later US Mattel version has a base that goes completely around the slit for the axe so it's in two pieces. I believe if the mechanism is removed it will be constructed a bite sturdier than the Popy version as most of the Mattel mods to shooters are an effort to improve the mechanics.
Popy and US Mattel 1st Version Dragun Axe Shooter

US Mattel Dragun 2nd Version  Axe Shooter

For the European Goldorak/Goldrake, the hands use a later mold so they are larger and a bit more bulbous than the original Grendizer. The Grendizer is also molded in slightly darker navy plastic and has an overall shorter length:

European Goldorak/Goldrake left, Popy Grendizer Right

European Goldorak/Goldrake left, Popy Grendizer Right

European Goldorak/Goldrake left, Popy Grendizer Right

Anyway, that rounds things up for now. I hope you find this useful.

-- John

All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel, all Popy, Banpresto, Unifive or Yutaka images and captions are copyright Popy/Bandai and used without permission. All other content, including images and editorial, is Copyright © 1997-2018 John Eaton and/or contributors unless otherwise stated. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton, by clicking here.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Great Mazinger with Version Comparisons



 Popy Great Mazinger


I finally had some times to take photos and compare the "Tall Head" Great Mazinger with the more common version. Details here:

Popy Great Mazinger

All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel, all Popy, Banpresto, Unifive or Yutaka images and captions are copyright Popy/Bandai and used without permission. All other content, including images and editorial, is Copyright © 1997-2018 John Eaton and/or contributors unless otherwise stated. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton, by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Popy Accessory Updates - ZZ-5, ZZ-6, ZZ-8

 

Jumbo Accessory Updates


I've now finished detailed photos and descriptions of all the Popy XX and ZZ accessories:

These are the new additions:

I hope you enjoy them - please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

-- John

All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel, all Popy, Banpresto, Unifive or Yutaka images and captions are copyright Popy/Bandai and used without permission. All other content, including images and editorial, is Copyright © 1997-2018 John Eaton and/or contributors unless otherwise stated. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton, by clicking here.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Site Updates - ZZ-4 and ZZ-7


 Had a chance to update and add a few pages:

-- John

All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel, all Popy, Banpresto, Unifive or Yutaka images and captions are copyright Popy/Bandai and used without permission. All other content, including images and editorial, is Copyright © 1997-2017 John Eaton and/or contributors unless otherwise stated. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton, by clicking here.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

How to Start Collecting Shogun Warriors



I've had a few newcomers to the hobby ask for some advice on how to start collecting Shogun Warriors toys, so I thought I would share my thoughts and have something to link back to - thus this post.

I think  the "why" should determine how you use my advice - let me explain. Most collectors don't start out with the idea that they are collectors - they either see something interesting and just buy it because of some memory (in the case of a vintage toy) or because they like the aesthetics of the thing. I break it down to the following:
  • Non-Collectors - there's a small group of people that buy things just because they are appealing, with no intent of understanding the context behind the item or anything. You might see something at a tag sale or in an antique mall and think "that's really cool" and just buy it.
  • Collectors - there's an old saying that if you own more than 3 of something you're a collector. Congratulations! So from here we need to talk about some strategies around collecting - why you ask? Because if you don't have something in mind you'll end up over-paying (don't worry if you're already done this as everyone pretty much start out buying something and then realizing afterwards that you paid too much). This is where the "why" becomes important. I think it can be broken down into the following:
    1.  You had the toy as a kid and you really just want to replace what you had to relive the experience
    2. You had the toy as a kid and you always wanted the rest of the toys that went with the toy
    3. You had the toys as a kid and you want to pick up others that fit into the same context
      You  
    4. Variants of the above but you never had the toy - maybe you remember the toys, the anime or tokusatsu the toy is base on or something similar.
    5. You're an obsessive collector that needs to have everything associated with the toyline - note that I didn't put anything in between 4 and 5 as I think most "real" collector are obsessive and buy as much as they can afford.
So where to start? This is where you need to do a bit of soul searching and decide the following:
  1. I'm going to only buy loose items that I had as a kid - this is the most visceral of collecting as it means you can touch your toys and use them to bring back memories. A variation of this is to buy both a loose and a boxed example - some collectors love that feeling of discovery in the toy store when they first saw the toy and eventually made it their own.
  2. I'm going to fill out a collection of what I like (could be loose or boxed) and will need to figure out what the current prices are for this stuff and where to find "deals."
  3. I'm going to own everything MIP (Mint-in-Package) or OSS (Old Store Stock)
There's sort of a progression for most people - they don't think they're going to be at the "I'm going to own everything" stage until they start feeding the need - and yes hobby collecting can be quite addicting. I think most collectors start with the purchase of a few loose items and then, depending on availability and degree of OCD-ness, they progress up the ladder. The trick is to decide what you really, really want to do (if you're wishy-washy about this it can end up costing you lots of money - I'll explain later).

So what should you pay and where should you go? These are my recommendations:
  1. Buy the best figure that you can find that you can afford. You're better off having one very good minty figure then a half-dozen beaters. What do I mean by better off? All things being equal, it's easier to store, display and resell better items rather than common beaters.
  2. You can find just about any Shogun Warrior figure, die-cast or accessory on eBay - everything that's ever been made has ended up there. I recommend that you parse the listings with "Shogun Warriors" as the search criteria.
  3. Start with the basic large figures released in the US - there are foreign variants and knock-offs - I would recommend you keep away from them until you understand them more - the collectors of that group are fierce and the quality may be disappointing to you.
  4. You need to start developing your own lists of prices for this stuff to see how much items are actually selling for. I use a spreadsheet plus some other utilities to keep prices up to date so I know the relative value of just about every item - I've been doing this for many years so I have a lot of data. You'll be starting from scratch. Don't take anyone's word on the value - in general retail values are all overreaching (dealers have additional costs to reconcile so this normal - it's up to you whether you want something bad enough at the asking price). Buyer beware!
  5. In general most of the jumbo machinders (the big, 2 foot tall figures) can be found for a $100 or less loose (with the exception of Daimos who tends to be a bit more expensive and Rodan which is quite a bit more). 
  6. For your own sanity, I would not buy figures that aren't complete (meaning all limbs with no broken parts). By the time you replace missing bits with reproductions you'll end up spending the same amount as a complete figure.
  7. If you can find a loose figure that's complete (with all accessories) then pay a bit more and get him. As above, the accessories, even as reproduction, will drive the cost of the figure up to about the same price.
  8. If you don't want to buy boxed, don't ignore the boxed versions, especially if the boxes are in bad shape - often you can buy a crappy boxed, complete figure for about the cost of a loose, complete figure.
  9. If you can, physically examine the figure or at minimum, ask if any of the parts are reproductions. Reproductions can be nearly as good as the originals, however some are quite inferior and do nothing to add value.
  10. Once you get into the boxes, look to see if the bottom is original or replaced and be aware that for the higher end toys (not so much the Shogun Warriors) there are very good reproductions that are difficult to tell without comparing to an actual box. Of the SW boxes, the only repros I've seen were pretty crappy and obvious photocopies glued to cardboard.
  11. Look for sales listings on the SW and other Japanese toy groups on Facebook - these prices in general will be a retail price, but you can usually trust the quality and experience of the seller (plus most are well known to other collectors so you can get a better fell for what they are charging).
  12. Shipping can be quite expensive on the jumbos - they weigh 3 pounds loose and 5 pounds boxed. If the box is oversized (and all premade are from what I've seen) there's an additional shipping markup - that's why most eBay sales have very high shipping. Factor this in on the value of the item - I've refrained before because the shipping was so excessive.
  13. If you decide to become an advance collector you 'll want to start parsing the Yahoo Japan Auction site - there are a few utilities that will translate and proxy bid for you - undestand that this drives up the costs and shipping can be quite expensive (I factor in $200-300 per box but most of the services will put multiple items in the same box). 
  14. If you have already decided to become an advanced collector - don't wait on the hard-to-get items and buy the most expensive items that you can afford - prices are only going up on all but the most common items. If you wait a year you may have a hard time finding something you need and when you do, expect to pay 30-50% more. It's very rare that I've fond something I passed on when looking at a later time. This is what I meant when I said earlier that it can end up costing you.
For my own experience, I have always had a collector's personality - I'm rather a completest and it shows in my collections. If anything I have to refrain from over-buying. I found my first Shogun Warrior Godzilla at a  yard sale for $20 - it had a broken lever but came with the fist. Inside the tail I found a small Godzilla bendy that I still own. I bought it because I love Kaiju and Godzilla in particular - I actually thought the commercials for the Shogun Warrior were quite stupid when I saw them as a young adult - why would his fist fly off? My reasoning for collecting this toyline has more to do with the aesthetics and an appreciating for the original tokusatsu programming or anime.
One other note - about displaying these - I love the idea of having a whole wall covered in Jumbo Machinders - however I don't have the space plus it's difficult to keep that big a display well dusted. You could either put everything behind glass or do what I do and rotate out the figures from time to time in my office. The photo at the top is from a few months ago.
Anyway, I hope these tips will help new collectors. Let me know if you have any questions.
-- John     

All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel, all Popy, Banpresto, Unifive or Yutaka images and captions are copyright Popy/Bandai and used without permission. All other content, including images and editorial, is Copyright © 1997-2018 John Eaton and/or contributors unless otherwise stated. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton, by clicking here.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Updates for January 2018



Had a chance to do a few updates - tackling the Popy ZZ accessories plus some others. Added the following:

Uni-Five Accessory:
Popy Accessories: 
Let me know what you think.

-- John


All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel, all Popy, Banpresto, Unifive or Yutaka images and captions are copyright Popy/Bandai and used without permission. All other content, including images and editorial, is Copyright © 1997-2018 John Eaton and/or contributors unless otherwise stated. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton, by clicking here.

Monday, January 1, 2018

XX-9 - XX-12 - XX-15 First Updates for 2018


Popy XX-12 Photon-Powered Timer




I've had two of these a while and recently picked up the XX-9 so it's time to get photos and descriptions on the site.

  • XX-12 Photon-Powered Timer - Not really sure about the purpose of this accessory, but seems to be a use-timer for the various accessories before they should be replaced by another.
  • XX-15 Drill Missile Fists - In the manga and anime, the Mazingers could break open their arms at the elbows to expose a deadly pulse ray. These arms provide the effect.

Happy New Year!

-- John

All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel, all Popy, Banpresto, Unifive or Yutaka images and captions are copyright Popy/Bandai and used without permission. All other content, including images and editorial, is Copyright © 1997-2018 John Eaton and/or contributors unless otherwise stated. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton, by clicking here.